It was overshadowed by his trip to Mexico, his watershed speech on illegal immigration, and his appearance at a black church in Detroit, but Donald Trump delivered a message on patriotism Thursday that deserves a wider audience.
Speaking to the American League National Convention in Cincinnati, Trump went over the core basics of his national security platform, promising to defeat ISIS and secure the southern border. But he diverged from his standard stump speech at one point, telling the veterans organization that he wanted to bring a sense of national pride back to the country’s youth.
“Together we’re going to work on so many shared goals,” he said, “but I want to begin by discussing one goal that I know is so important to you: promoting American pride and patriotism in America’s schools.”
Trump said that it was essential to make sure young children grew up with role models worthy of their admiration. “We want our kids to learn the incredible achievement of America’s history, its institutions, and its heroes,” he said. “We will stop apologizing for America, and we will start celebrating America.”
“We will be united by our common culture, values, and principles, becoming one American nation – one country under one Constitution, saluting one American flag, and always saluting it – the flag all of you helped to protect and preserve,” he said.
The cynical-minded will be tempted to toss this off as political gibberish, but that’s a reflection of the twisted times we live in and not a statement on the speech itself. Maybe it does sound corny in 2016 to be getting all misty-eyed about the flag and the sacrifices of those who gave so much to defend it, but see, that’s the whole problem.
It’s been more than a generation since we had public schools that delivered a positive message about America to our young men and women. Since the 1990s, kids have been raised on an entirely different message. The left likes to call it a more “realistic” version of history; what it amounts to is one of the first instances of a country feeding its citizens a steady diet of self-destructive propaganda. This is not a balanced view of the United States; this is a systematic tour through a land of evil. Every hero has become a villain, every triumph a tragedy. And, they learn, this evil persists to this very day.
It’s not just the schools. It’s everything. Movies, TV, social media, music. None of these teach kids anything worth learning about community, patriotism, respect, or sacrifice. They learn to sneer at sincerity and mock true character.
Here’s one of the simple things that went unnoticed at the beginning of the Trump phenomenon. People started responding – not to what he was saying about this particular issue or that one – but rather to his open, unapologetic desire to see the United States kick ass once again. That’s a message we haven’t heard in a very long time.
That it became this dirty, racist, awful thing to so many millions of Americans…well, that’s a sad comment on the state of patriotism.